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Five Tips to Follow to Prepare Your Plumbing for Winter

With winter temperatures coming quickly, now’s the time to really start focusing on preparing your home for winter. Summer is generally pretty easy on your home, aside from your air conditioner and your roof. Winter, on the other hand, is considerably more difficult. In addition to harsh weather like low temperatures, you also have to deal with the trouble that is snow and ice. All of this means it’s important to act now and start preparing your home for the months ahead.

When it comes to your plumbing, preparing for winter is easier than you might think. By taking a few proactive steps, you can avoid the hassle of a major problem and get through winter without any added stress or serious plumbing emergencies. Here are five tips you can follow to properly prepare your home's plumbing system for winter.

Insulate Exposed Plumbing Lines

If you have any exposed plumbing lines in either outdoor spaces or areas without climate control (such as down in your basement), now’s the best time insulate these lines to prevent the freezing cold from freezing the water inside. When water freezes, it expands, and when it expands, it needs somewhere to expand into, When it doesn’t have somewhere it can expand into, it puts a tremendous amount of pressure against the side of the container it’s in. When that container is one of your water pipes, the pipe itself can crack or even snap, meaning you’ll be greeted by a pipe which floods your yard or the interior of your home when it thaws out.

Plumbing insulation is readily available from home improvement warehouses and hardware stores, and generally costs just a few cents per foot. Invest in a bunch of this and carefully insulate all of the exposed lines in your home which are at risk of freezing (including any visible lines which run in walls that face the outdoors). Make sure to do this before the first big cold snap of the season.

Cover Spigots & Fixtures

Outdoor faucets and fixtures can also freeze, and when they freeze they can cause many of the same issues that an exposed pipe could do. The only problem is that they can also cause the water in lines that feed them to freeze. However, preventing exposure to the blistering cold is fairly easy. Using an insulated cap, you can cover the hose or tap and limit it’s exposure to the coldest temperatures. These covers are commonly found at most home improvement stores and install in seconds, making it one of the easiest ways to prevent serious damage to your home.

Flush Your Water Heater

Your water heater is already an important part of your day to day life, it’s going to become even more important during winter. You’ll depend on hot water to keep you comfortable, aid with cooking, and so much more, so you’ll want to make sure your water heater is ready to handle your needs. Over time, sediment like dirt, dust, calcium, magnesium, and other substances can accumulate in the bottom of your water heater’s tank. These are fairly common—most of them are found in the water that enters your home, and others come from corrosion in your tank in general. However, they act as an insulator which prevents your water heater from reheating as fast as it could. Flushing out your water heater eliminates this sediment from the bottom of your tank and ensures your water heater will be dependable and efficient all winter long.

Disconnect Garden Hoses

If you’re like many people who regularly use a garden hose, you probably have a hose which you leave sitting out ready for use when you water your plants or lawn (which may very well be every day). Unfortunately, many people also don’t empty this hose when they’re done with it, instead choosing to simply shut off the water and be done with it. When left out in freezing temperatures, the water in hoses can freeze, and frozen water expands, causing the hose to rip or possibly damage the water line it’s connected to. Water left in a garden hose can also cause the water still in the outdoor tap to freeze, causing the water in the water line servicing the outdoor tap to also freeze. When water in this line freezes, the line can burst, and you’ll be greeted by a bursting pipe and flooding yard (or home) when it thaws.

Shutoff Outdoor Faucets & Open Bleeder Caps

Finally, you should take this opportunity to shut off any outdoor faucets entirely. Find the shutoff valve it’s connected to and close it, then open the faucet itself to allow any built up water pressure to dissipate. Then shut the faucet and open the bleeder valve to allow the water to continue to drip out. Keep an eye on this valve for a while as well, as water continuing to drip out is a sign that you may need to replace the shutoff valve in your tank.

If you find you’ve got a plumbing problem this winter, make sure it’s attended to quickly and effectively by the experts at Pilgrim Plumbing & Heating! Give us a call at (781) 253-2055 today and schedule your service.